New OHS Laws Approved in South Australia

A full 10 months after most other states adopted the Harmonised OHS Laws the new legislation was finally passed by the South Australian Parliament on Thursday night. But not everyone is happy with some calling the new laws too harsh and unnecessary.

 The new occupational health and safety laws put more responsibility on every member of an organisation to ensure safety in the workplace according to the SA Industrial Relations Minister Russell Wortley.

The Minister came under fire from industry groups including the Housing Industry Association who said complying with the new laws by January 1 next year would be too onerous on its members.

“The January 1 2013 start date is unachievable and will put too much pressure on businesses in this state,” Housing Industry Association SA regional director Robert Harding said. “Our members are now going to be faced with something like 45 new codes (of practice) and how they, as small businesses, are going to come to grips with that defies contemplation.”

Mr Wortley has said that businesses complying with the current laws should have no difficulty meeting the new standards. He said the laws aim to prevent workplace deaths like the 16 that have occurred during the 19 months MPs debated the legislation.

Other business and industry groups joined the HIA in warning that  the new standards will be too complex and will increase red tape and costs. Business SA chief executive officer Nigel McBride said he believed the laws were “overly complex and difficult to understand”.

“The volume and complexity of the new codes . . . appear unworkable,” he said.

Law experts and the Opposition had warned the new rules would require householders hiring nannies, cleaners, tradespeople and other regular visitors to be responsible for ensuring their homes are free of hazards.

However, Mr Wortley said this was “scaremongering”.

“There’s no evidence throughout the country of anywhere where a mum or dad has been prosecuted by occupational health and safety laws for breaches of safety in hiring a nanny,” Mr Wortley said.

Western Australia has budgeted for the changes while all other states, except Victoria, have passed similar workplace legislation.

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